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Hall, Olsson rule U.S. Open at Copper


The 10th annual U.S. Freeskiing Open went down at Copper Mountain for the first time ever this weekend. The Open consists of halfpipe and slopestyle for men and women and a single-trick big air under the lights for the men.
    The U.S. Open is possibly the most prestigious event in park freeskiing. Its rivals are mainly invitational contests, which makes the U.S. Open unique. Not only are the top pros in attendance, but also the latest unknown 14-year-old can (and does) routinely win.
    Whether it is the most prestigious park and pipe event may be debatable, but there are a few things I love about the U.S. Open: First, it belongs to the skiers — there is no sidesaddle, and because it is an open, the whole spectrum of the community is represented. Second, it takes place in the middle of winter, the start of the season, when everyone is filled with hopes and dreams for the rest of the snow year. It’s a happy gathering, a reunion of the community.
    And, you never know what is going to happen with new talent.

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colorado — The 10th annual U.S. Freeskiing Open went down at Copper Mountain for the first time ever this weekend. The Open consists of halfpipe and slopestyle for men and women and a single-trick big air under the lights for the men.
    The U.S. Open is possibly the most prestigious event in park freeskiing. Its rivals are mainly invitational contests, which makes the U.S. Open unique. Not only are the top pros in attendance, but also the latest unknown 14-year-old can (and does) routinely win.
    Whether it is the most prestigious park and pipe event may be debatable, but there are a few things I love about the U.S. Open: First, it belongs to the skiers — there is no sidesaddle, and because it is an open, the whole spectrum of the community is represented. Second, it takes place in the middle of winter, the start of the season, when everyone is filled with hopes and dreams for the rest of the snow year. It’s a happy gathering, a reunion of the community.
    And, you never know what is going to happen with new talent.

Hall tames the pipe
    Tanner Hall was once a young upstart at the Open. Now he has more podiums in major freeskiing comps than any other competitor past or present. He emerged the winner in this year’s U.S. Open, too.
    There was a lot of buzz among the athletes that the Copper pipe was “over-vert,” that is, too vertical for comfort.
    No one even saw Hall all week — he just showed up Sunday, trained, and skied in the semifinals. When he is on, Hall is nearly unbeatable, and this remarkable athlete has decided to focus his talents on pipe over slopestyle.
    “I like pipe because it splits skiers who can do gnarly tricks from ones that can really ski a mountain, because in pipe it’s all about edge control, it’s all about linking back-to-back moves,” Hall said. “Every pipe is going to be different, you have to adapt, just like skiing a big mountain.”
    Hall, like many of the top athletes here, is looking forward to the X Games starting Thursday in Aspen.
    Matt Philipi of Breckenridge took second behind Hall, going super-huge in his second run and hitting a switch 900 as his bottom trick. “That’s the first time I did that ever, but I’m definitely pulling that out in X Games,” Philipi said. “That’s my new bottom trick — I want to get that dialed in.”
    Colby James West, a former Vermont Open winner, took third in a tight race for the podium, highlighted by a big flare (back-flip 180) and a switch 900 mute grab at the bottom. West is from New Hampshire but lives in Utah.
    Another Park City denizen, Grete Eliassen, took home top women’s honors in pipe, which is not a shock, since she and Sarah Burke routinely trade the top two spots on the podium. It was more of a shock that Burke wound up in sixth, 10 points behind Eliassen.
    “I wanted redemption so bad, because I fell in slopestyle and I didn’t do well. So today was the day. I’ve never won this comp [halfpipe], so this is amazing,” Eliassen said.
    Roz Groenwood of Calgary, Alberta, took second, considerably better than her last-place semifinals finish last year. “Roz G,” as she prefers to be called, is hoping to be invited to the X Games later this week on the basis of the result.
    Third went to Angeli VanLaanen of Aspen, a two-time Vermont Open winner who will definitely be competing at X.
    As Eliassen put it, “Angeli really stood out. She’s going bigger than I’ve ever seen her go before — it was good to see.”

Slopestyle is Olsson's show
    Rolling back to Friday, men’s and women’s slopestyle both yielded some surprises and new names.
    Men’s slopestyle was won by Jon Olsson, the perennial star who almost always seems to land on the second or third step of the podium.
    Olsson is a known perfectionist who polishes his runs to a fine luster before the comps. This year, he incorporated his new “kanga flip” into his slopestyle run as his fourth air and took home his first-ever gold in the U.S. Open.
    “My strategy is always to put down a run I know I can land and hope that is good enough,” Olsson said. “I don’t like taking chances.
    “I guess this year I worked hard enough that my fun run was good enough to win.”
    Olsson amazed the ski world in the spring when he busted out the kanga at the Jon Olsson invitational. He actually developed the flip on the water ramp in Australia and intends to go back there immediately after X Games to tweak it further.
    It’s clear that he has more tricks to unleash later this season. “The judges don’t seem to appreciate double flips, and I don’t intend to go back to doing switch 10s and 12s, because I think it all kind of looks the same. It’s not innovative, I think,” Olsson said. “I’m not going to break down because the judges don’t like it, I’m just going to go back and train even harder until they like the doubles.”
    Olsson clearly has confidence in his vision for the future of freeskiing. “Even if I don’t win the big air, I don’t care. As long as I know I have trick that I’m proud of. My goal this year is not to win the events, but to learn those double flips I have in my mind.”
    The Swede, who lives in Monaco, led a Viking pack to the podium, the other two spots going to Norwegians. Seventeen-year-old PK Hunder took second, and as the event concluded, some athletes who had been watching joked, “Man, PK practically knuckled everything” … “Yeah that PK doesn’t go big at all, what an a-hole.”
    Andreas Hatveit pulled down third with a tasty high-amplitude run, with smooth switch 900s and 10s.
    Hatveit’s shoulder had been bothering him, and he is more of a pipe skier, but he didn’t like the feel of the Copper pipe and decided to save it for X Games. “I was really intimidated by this pipe, it was icy and over-vert, so I’m just doing slopestyle an
d big air and seeing how that goes. I could ski well in it, but I’d need like a week to get it down,” he said.
    Anna Segal, an Australian woman who lives in Aspen for the winter, took first in women’s slopestyle. Segal broke her wrist in training on Thursday, but skied anyway and took home her best career result. “I didn’t really want to know [about the wrist], because I would’ve been really cautious and I wouldn’t have been able to get my grabs with this cast on,” Segal grinned as she held up her right hand.
    Segal’s run includes a Lincoln loop; she’s one of the only women to do this in slopestyle. Her amplitude was considerable, which helped her score also. “I recently knuckled a jump at Keystone and bruised my heels. After that I have been really careful; watching all the boys and counting how many turns I was taking on my run-in. So that probably helped with the amplitude, because I was so concerned about knuckling. I’m not too scared about going big; it’s much safer than hitting the knuckle."
    Contest veteran Michelle Parker of Lake Tahoe took second, with her trademark style and cleanliness showing through.
    Third place went to Kristi Leskinen, who wiped out on her first run and almost didn’t ski a second run.

Gagnier tops in big air
    The Saturday night big-air invitational was still a men’s-only event, but women were allowed to forerun this year, opening the door for future involvement as competitors.
    The kanga flip made an appearance in second on the big-air podium and nearly won the event. It is an infusion of thinking in the trick arena, and with two athletes doing the off-axis embellished double flip, it really made the event more interesting to watch.
    Jakub Wester, a fellow Swede and ski companion to Olsson, was throwing the double flips all night. He finally added an extra 180 rotation on his last jump in an effort to unseat Charles Gagnier from first place with his switch 1260 with a crazy grab.
    The strategy almost worked, but he touched a hand down on the landing and lost some points. “I realized the kanga flip wasn’t going to be up to par with Gagnier’s switch 12, even if I stomped it. So I added another 180 on it and landed forwards. I think if I stomped it I would’ve won,” Wester concluded.
    “The idea for the double flips started while Jon and I were watching TJ [Schiller] doing switch 1440s at the Open last year. It was like, all right, we’re not going to be able to match that, so we have to come up with something new. And we were also tired of seeing the same switch spins over and over.”
    “I saw Jon doing the kanga flip a lot, and figured I could do it, so I went to the water ramps and learned it. Its really fun to learn new tricks again, I haven’t really been learning new tricks for so long. Double flips just seemed like the natural direction.”
    Sammy Carlsen took third with a switch 1260 mute grab.
    To see a photo of the first kanga flip, go to www.jon-olsson.com. It’s right there. Decide for yourself if it’s the best thing to happen to park skiing in a long time.

Rose Hill Drive
    The Saturday night festivities were capped off with a full 90-minute set from Rose Hill Drive to large crowd that braved the evening chill to literally snow dance in front of the stage.
    The Boulder, Colorado, bred rockers impressed the crowd with incendiary blues-psychedelic rock reminiscent of Cream, Hendrix and Zeppelin. Rose Hill has opened for The Who both in the States and Britain and is currently touring the Western United States and Canada before returning to Europe and the UK for an extensive string of dates.
    I caught up with Daniel Sproul, Rose Hill’s lead guitar, and asked him about playing. The band recently covered Jimi Hendrix’ Band of Gypsies for the first set of their annual New Year’s party in Boulder.
    “When we agreed to do the record, I had heard it maybe twice before. But when we got into it, I struggled with it. I didn’t want to play exactly like he did, but trying to sound like him at the same time, yet not wanting to sound like a poser,” said the long-haired guitarist. “The guitar was like an extension of his body and I never understood that before. Now I’m totally obsessed!”
    Some of their fans might be surprised to learn that they were in fact influenced by some grunge bands, such as Stone Temple Pilots and Rage Against the Machine. But it was their collective love of Led Zeppelin that turned them squarely in the direction of hard blues rock. Right now, Sproul is listening to a lot of Hendrix and David Bowie from the Ziggy Stardust era.
    “I think it’s interesting how rock and roll is coming back. I think people are starting to realize there is something about music that makes you feel something. Not singing about how much money you have. A good record takes you on an emotional journey.” (Daniel later mentioned the Beatles’ Revolver and Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy as good records.)
    When I asked about how he liked touring in the UK, Sproul said, “I love it there. It’s amazing. The English people, the audience, are with you from note one, and they don’t leave until they decide they don’t like it. They are so passionate about it and so … kind of appreciative.”
    The concert started right after the big-air awards, and it was a great musical climax to Saturday night, with light snow coming down around the revelry.


Final Results US Open Big Air
1st Place    Charles Gagnier
2nd Place    Jakub Wester
3rd Place    Sammy Carlson
4th Place    TJ Schiller

US Freeskiing Open Championships – 1.21.2007       
Mens Finals Reverse Order-RESULTS                           
Start    Athlete Name     BIB    Country    Total Run 1    Total Run 2    Best Run   
           
1    Tanner Hall    2    USA    95.25    89.5    95.25               
2    Matt Philipi    13    USA    92    73.25    92               
3    Colby West    152    USA    86    91    91               
4    Charles Gagnier    15    CAN    85.75    87.25    87.25               
5    Niklas Karlstrom    166    SWE    85    73    85               
6    Brent Abrams    34    USA &nbs
p;  84.5    79.5    84.5               
7    Sean Field    162    USA    83.75    55.75    83.75               
8    Charlie Lasser    129    USA    80.75    83.25    83.25               
9    Lyndon Sheehan    173    NZL    78.25    81.75    81.75               
10    Mike Riddle    37    CAN    35.75    71    71               
11    JP Solberg    20    USA    60    39.75    60               
12    Matt Hayward    85    CAN    20    40.25    40.25               
                                       
US Freeskiing Open Championships – 1.21.2007       
Womens Finals Halfpipe                               
Start    Athlete Name     BIB    Total Run 1    Total Run 2    Best Run   
           
1    Grete Eliassen    2    82.5    81    82.5               
2    Roz Groenwood    28    79.75    30.5    79.75               
3    Angeli VanLaanen    18    79.5    30.75    79.5               
4    Jess Cumming    4    75    40.25    75               
5    Manami Mitsuboshi    43    74.75    23    74.75               
6    Sarah Burke    1    38    71.5    71.5               
7    Stephanie Sirianni    29    71.25    31.5    71.25               
8    Virgine Faivre    10    65    68.5    68.5               
9    Jen Hudak    3    32    67.5    67.5               
10    Anais Caradeux    15    65.25    64.75    65.25               
11    Gina Gmeiner    8    54    63.75    63.75               
12    Julie Johnson    56    62    63.75    63.75               
13    Keri Herman    36    60.25    53.25    60.25               
14    Ida Jespersen    58    60    55.75    60               
15    Kim Misof    74    57.5    59.25    59.25               
16    Mirjam Jaeger    40    47    58.75    58.75               
17    Pip Simmonds    59    50    57.5    57.5               
18    Marta Ahrenstedt    7    49.25    56    56               
19    Katia Griffiths    49    24.25    53.25    53.25               
                                   
MEN'S FINALS RESULTS – Slopestyle 1.19.2007           
FINISH    Athlete Name     BIB    Country    Total Run 1    Total Run 2    Best Run

1    Jon Olsson    5    SWE    91.5    95.5    95.5
2    Pk Hunder    243    NOR    91.25    94    94
3    Andreas Hatveit    17    NOR    87.25    90    90
4    Sean Decker    23    USA    59    87.5    87.5
5    BB Stian    241    NOR    55.5    85.25    85.25
6    Peter Olenick    6    USA    64.75    85    85
7    Thomas Dolplads    154    NOR    79.75    52.75    79.75
8    Tim Durtschi    99    USA    76    78    78
9    Roy Kittler    106    USA    77.75    56    77.75
10    Jossi Wells    28    NZL    72    39    72
11    Sammy Carlson    3    USA    55.25  &
nbsp; 58.75    58.75
12    Justin Dorey    38    USA    51    49.5    51

Jeep US Freeskiing Championships               
Start List Womens Slopestyle Finals 1.19.07           
     Athlete Name     BIB    Country    Total Run 1    Total Run 2    Best Run

1    Anna Segal    39    USA    56.75    83.25    83.25
2    Michelle Parker    5    USA    80    80.5    80.5
3    Kristi Leskinen    13    USA    51    77    77
4    Maiko Hara    75    JPN    55.75    66.75    66.75
5    Grete Eliassen    2    USA    66    59    66
6    Sophia Schwartz    31    USA    65    62.75    65
7    Natalie Siriani    9    AUS    63.75    43.75    63.75
8    Elizabeth Maney    37    USA    38.25    0    38.25
9    Vanessa Colletta    44    FRA    35.25    29.5    35.25
10    Naomi Edmondson    12    GRB    33    33.25    33.25
11    Sarah Burke    1    USA    20.25    26.75    26.75
12    Shidasha Holmstead    57    USA    21.75    0    21.75
                       
             

 

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